“We’re going to sign an executive order today, I believe, and that’ll solve any liability problems,” Trump said on Tuesday.
By signing the order, Trump will declare these plants as a part of critical infrastructure in the US.
The administration is also working with the Department of Labor on issuing guidance about which employees who work at these meat processing facilities should remain home, including workers who are part of populations most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
When Trump announced the executive order, he also told reporters that his administration was working with Tyson Foods.
Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson wouldn’t comment on the order because the company had not seen it, but said: “We can tell you our top priority remains the safety (of) our team members and plant communities while we work to continue fulfilling our role of feeding families across the country.”
With many Americans staying home during the coronavirus, industry experts say demand for meat has increased. But some of the country’s largest processing plants have been forced to cease operations temporarily after thousands of employees across the country have tested positive for the virus.
“A protracted pandemic crisis could quickly put a strain on the food supply chains, a complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping, retailers and more,” the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in a report.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley praised the move on Twitter but noted the need to follow federal guidance to protect workers.
“Pres @realDonaldTrump is right 2use authority 2 keep open meat processing plants Its critical infrastructure 4 country’s food supply chain As saying goes society is 9 meals away from food riots Fed govt shld help w PPE&testing/plants need 2follow CDC&OSHA guidance 2protect wrkers,” he tweeted.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Ron McLean, Dianne Gallagher and Pamela Kirkland contributed to this report.